music clip of the day


Category: classical

Monday, September 15th

It’s your choice. You can allow yourself to be swept away. Or you can stay put on your own little island.

Johannes Brahms (1833-1897), Piano Concerto No. 2; Munich Philharmonic (Sergiu Celibidache, cond.) with Daniel Barenboim, piano, live, 1991



reading table

The man pulling radishes
pointed my way
with a radish.

—Kobayashi Issa (1763-1827; translated from Japanese by Robert Haas)

Saturday, September 13th

David T. Little (1978-), Haunt of Last Nightfall; Third Coast Percussion, live



musical thoughts

It’s not hard to imagine a world where the kinds of music could be counted. Maybe there’d be 49, or 94, or 949. Thank God, or whatever, we don’t live there.

Saturday, September 6th

tonight in Chicago

She’ll be performing at Constellation.

Morton Feldman (1926-1987), Triadic Memories (excerpt)
Marilyn Nonken (piano), 2004



reading table

John Koethe (1945-), “A Private Singularity” (Poetry, 9/14)

I used to like being young, and I still do,
Because I think I still am. There are physical
Objections to that thought, and yet what
Fascinates me now is how obsessed I was at thirty-five
With feeling older than I was: it seemed so smart
And worldly, so fastidiously knowing to dwell so much
On time — on what it gives, what it destroys, on how it feels.
And now it’s here and doesn’t feel like anything at all:
A little warm perhaps, a little cool, but mostly waiting on my
Life to fill it up, and meanwhile living in the light and listening
To the music floating through my living room each night.
It’s something you can only recognize in retrospect, long after
Everything that used to fill those years has disappeared
And they’ve become regrets and images, leaving you alone
In a perpetual present, in a nondescript small room where it began.
You find it in yourself: the ways that led inexorably from
Home to here are simply stories now, leading nowhere anymore;
The wilderness they led through is the space behind a door
Through which a sentence flows, following a map in the heart.
Along the way the self that you were born with turns into
The self that you created, but they come together at the end,
United in the memory where time began: the tinkling of a bell
On a garden gate in Combray, or the clang of a driven nail
In a Los Angeles backyard, or a pure, angelic clang in Nova Scotia —
Whatever age restores. It isn’t the generalizations that I loved
At thirty-five that move me now, but particular moments
When my life comes into focus, and the feeling of the years
Between them comes alive. Time stops, and then resumes its story,
Like a train to Balbec or a steamer to Brazil. We moved to San Diego,
Then I headed east, then settled in the middle of the country
Where I’ve waited now for almost forty years, going through the
Motions of the moments as they pass from now to nothing,
Reading by their light. I don’t know why I’m reading them again —
Elizabeth Bishop, Proust. The stories you remember feel like mirrors,
And rereading them like leafing through your life at a certain age,
As though the years were pages. I keep living in the light
Under the door, waiting on those vague sensations floating in
And out of consciousness like odors, like the smell of sperm and lilacs.
In the afternoon I bicycle to a park that overlooks Lake Michigan,
Linger on a bench and read Contre Sainte-Beuve and Time Reborn,
A physics book that argues time is real. And that’s my life —
It isn’t much, and yet it hangs together: its obsessions dovetail
With each other, as the private world of my experience takes its place
Within a natural order that absorbs it, but for a while lets it live.
It feels like such a miracle, this life: it promises everything,
And even keeps its promise when you’ve grown too old to care.
It seems unremarkable at first, and then as time goes by it
Starts to seem unreal, a figment of the years inside a universe
That flows around them and dissolves them in the end,
But meanwhile lets you linger in a universe of one —
A village on a summer afternoon, a garden after dark,
A small backyard beneath a boring California sky.
I said I still felt young, and so I am, yet what that means
Eludes me. Maybe it’s the feeling of the presence
Of the past, or of its disappearance, or both of them at once —
A long estrangement and a private singularity, intact
Within a tinkling bell, an iron nail, a pure, angelic clang —
The echo of a clear, metallic sound from childhood,
Where time began: “Oh, beautiful sound, strike again!”

Thursday, September 4th

composer, n. somebody who wants to hear sounds nobody’s ever heard before.

Mario Diaz de León (1979-), Prism Path; International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE),* live, New York, 2011


*Claire Chase, flutes; Eric Lamb, flutes; Joshua Rubin, clarinets; Cory Smythe, piano; Nathan Davis, percussion; Mario Diaz de León, electronics.

Monday, September 1st

last night in Chicago

He played this piece, among others, at Constellation.

Steve Reich (1936-), New York Counterpoint (1985), excerpts; James Falzone (clarinet), recording, 2014


Here’s another take.

Evan Ziporyn (clarinet), live, London, 2012

Thursday, August 28th

never enough

Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827), Piano Sonata No. 17 in D minor (“The Tempest”); Daniel Barenboim (piano), live, Berlin, 2005

I went decades without listening to Beethoven. Now I can’t imagine life without him. No matter what kind of day I’m having, no matter what my mood, his music makes life seem richer, and deeper, and more worth living.

Monday, August 25th

Why not begin the week with something beautiful?

Lou Harrison (1917-2003), Second Symphony (“Elegiac,” 1988); BBC National Orchestra of Wales



reading table

never growing old
Mr. and Mrs.

—Kobayashi Issa (1763-1827; translated from Japanese by David G. Lanoue)

Monday, August 18th

two takes

Dmitri Shostakovich (1906-1975), String Quartet No. 10, 3rd movt.

Fabian Almazan Trio with String Quartet, live, New York, 2012


Borodin Quartet, recording



random thoughts

If life weren’t so sad, it wouldn’t be life.

Thursday, August 14th

soundtrack to a dream

Morton Feldman (1926-1987), The Viola in My Life; João Pedro Delgado (viola), et al., live, Portugal, 2014







reading table

The Suicide’s Room
by Wislawa Szymborska (1923-2012; MCOTD Hall-of-Famer), translated from Polish by Stanislaw Baranczak and Clare Cavanagh

I’ll bet you think the room was empty.
Wrong. There were three chairs with sturdy backs.
A lamp, good for fighting the dark.
A desk, and on the desk a wallet, some newspapers.
A carefree Buddha and a worried Christ.
Seven lucky elephants, a notebook in a drawer.
You think our addresses weren’t in it?

No books, no pictures, no records, you guess?
Wrong. A comforting trumpet poised in black hands.
Saskia and her cordial little flower.
Joy the spark of gods.
Odysseus stretched on the shelf in life-giving sleep
after the labors of Book Five.
The moralists
with the golden syllables of their names
inscribed on finely tanned spines.
Next to them, the politicians braced their backs.

No way out? But what about the door?
No prospects? The window had other views.
His glasses
lay on the windowsill.
And one fly buzzed—that is, was still alive.

You think at least the note could tell us something.
But what if I say there was no note—
and he had so many friends, but all of us fit neatly
inside the empty envelope propped up against a cup.

Thursday, August 7th


Bela Bartok (1881-1945), String Quartet No. 4 in C major, Quatuor Ebène, live



reading table

Sometimes it feels like a writer is speaking directly to you. Yesterday, before catching a flight to Orlando, then driving sixty miles to this hotel, which I’ll soon be leaving to see a client at a federal prison, I happened upon this.

in and out
of prison they go . . .
baby sparrows

—Kobayashi Issa (1763-1827; translated from Japanese by David G. Lanoue)


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